You’re staring at your to-do list and are overwhelmed by the number of tasks you have to complete by the end of the week: a paper for your English class, a presentation for history, a large assignment in math, and a big exam to study for in science. You’re ready to buckle down and get to work, but you want to ensure you’re making the most of your study time, and you’re not sure what the best environment is to maximize your time and productivity. Should you go to the library? Maybe you should just camp out in your room? What about the kitchen table? You have a lot of options, but let’s take a look at one of the most common study spots among high schoolers and college students: coffee shops.
The Benefits of Coffee Shop Studying
The biggest benefit of studying in a coffee shop should be obvious: proximity to caffeine. While not everyone is a coffee junkie, coffee shops offer an array of caffeinated beverages to help you stay awake and focused. One scientific study found that 200 milligrams of coffee (about the amount in a large coffee at any coffee shop) improves problem-solving skills and memory. It also helps the brain identify certain phrases or words faster. If you’re not a coffee nut, there are also teas and other non-coffee drinks, as well as healthy snacks, to keep you focused on your work rather than your rumbling tummy and sleepy eyes.
The environment in a coffee shop is also a big benefit—usually. Ambient sound can be great to help you concentrate, and some studies have even shown that environments like this can help boost your creativity! So many people go to coffee shops to work and study, and the environment is most likely to encourage you to stay focused on your tasks since everyone else is doing exactly that. There is also some camaraderie amongst those who study at coffee shops regularly. You can encourage other people to keep pressing forward, and they may encourage you to stay focused and complete your assignments.
Another big benefit of studying at a coffee shop is fewer distractions. Yes, there are people coming in and out the door and talking around you, but your home and normal surroundings aren’t there to distract you. You don’t need to go throw a load of laundry in or let the dog out, and you don’t need to clean up the kitchen table or climb in your bed to take a nap. When you’re at a coffee shop, it’s just you, your computer, your books, and a cup of caffeine.
If you’ve been studying a ton or if you’ve been working on a particular paper or assignment for days, it can be really refreshing and beneficial to change your atmosphere. If you’ve been at home in your room or working in the library, sometimes getting out into the world can do wonders for your mind and your productivity. If you haven’t socialized in a few days, a coffee shop may be a welcome treat for you to have some human interaction as well.
Coffee shops are also a great place for a study group to meet. You’re not going to get shushed like you would in a library, but you can all get your liquid focus and charge forward in conquering the topic at hand. There is also the added benefit of not wanting to waste a trip. It would be so frustrating to set aside an afternoon to study at a coffee shop, only to get there and mess around on social media and not accomplish anything. If you’re going to make the trip out, you’re more likely to stay on task and be productive through the duration of your time there.
No matter what type of assignment you’re completing, and whether you’re working in a group or individually, a coffee shop can seriously boost your creativity and your focus, helping you accomplish a great deal of work and studying in less time.
The Drawbacks of Studying in a Coffee Shop
While most scientists, professionals, and students tend to agree that coffee shop studying is indeed more productive and effective than at-home studying, it’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence. Part of the reason studying at a coffee shop works so well is that it is a novelty. If you’re used to studying at your kitchen table while drinking a glass of water, going out to study at a coffee shop with a delicious iced coffee is unique, new, and fun, meaning you’re more excited about it and more committed to it. So be sure to keep it a novelty and don’t do it all the time, or it may lose some of its allure and effectiveness.
The biggest drawback of studying in a coffee shop is simply the distractions. Music is playing, people are walking in and out and all around, some people are on their phones or talking to a friend sitting next to them, the baristas are clanging plates, and espresso machines are buzzing and bubbling. Coffee shops can be extremely noisy, and if you get easily distracted, they are not the place for you to get work done. Studies have shown that the decibel level is key—most coffee shops are right around 70 decibels, which is the perfect amount of ambient noise to encourage focus and boost creativity. But a lot of coffee shops tend to be louder than this. With music and barista noises aside, a lot of places tend to be more social coffee shops rather than studying coffee shops, meaning they are louder and full of far more distractions.
While caffeine is a big perk of coffee shop studying, it can also be detrimental to your studying. Too much caffeine leads to increased stress levels, dehydration, headaches, anxiety, and fatigue. So if you’re going to study at a coffee shop, try to keep your actual coffee consumption to a minimum and opt for water or tea for your second and subsequent drinks. Additionally, if you study at a coffee shop frequently enough, you’re going to spend a ridiculous amount of money on beverages that you don’t need. If you’re buying a latte, you’re looking at $5 a pop. Even if you’re just drinking plain coffee, it’s still around $2 a cup. That may not seem like a lot, but it definitely adds up if you’re purchasing it every day, and it’s especially sobering when you realize you can make the same thing at home for mere pennies.
No matter where you choose to study, intention is absolutely key in being productive and making the most of your study time. Set your mind on the tasks at hand, do your best to stay focused, and you will accomplish what you need to. If you’re feeling burned out from studying at home, take a drive to a local coffee shop and join the other students and professionals who are hard at work in these environments. Make the most of your time, utilize study tips, and you’re sure to ace that test, paper, or another assignment.